PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the world’s longest highway tunnel, the Atal tunnel in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday. Pm Modi has referred to the tunnel as the “symbol of India’s self-confidence”. It is spread across 9.02 km and is built at an altitude of 3000 meters.
PM Modi, along with Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur, HP CM Jairam Thakur, CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat inaugurated the tunnel named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It has been built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and aims to reduce the travel time between Manali and Leh by 46 Kms i.e. to 4.5 hours.
PM Modi addressed a public gathering at Sissu in Lahaul valley following the inauguration. “Atal tunnel will give new strength to India’s border infrastructure. It is an example of world-class border connectivity. There have been demands to improve border infrastructure but for a long time, such projects either couldn’t get out of the planning stage or got stuck midway,” he said.
The tunnel is also expected to pave the way for new opportunities for tourism in the district. Additionally, It will have all-weather connectivity between Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley which was earlier cut off for six months of the year due to excessive snowfall in the region.
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had first announced the project on June 3, 2000. It has now been inaugurated after 20 years. The tunnel had faced challenged due to the “sensitive terrain” of the region.